« AnteriorContinuar »
gether unnecessary for Paul to teach them, for this would be laying them again as a foundation. But it was highly proper for him to go on to teach what would render them perfect or full grown men, seeing they were so deficient in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. This in fact he did in this very epistle, for a great part is spent in pointing out to them the reality of that, of which the Jewish law was but a shadow. But what was to prevent his doing this for he says, "this will we do if God permit." This Paul purposed to do, if God gave him opportunity, and if his purpose and labors were not frustrated, by their total apostasy from the faith before his letter came to them. Hence his fears about this in verses 4-9. See also chap. 10:23-39.
Rev. 14: 11. "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night." And 19: 3. "And again they said, Alleluia, and her smoke rose up forever and ever." And 20: 10. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." It would be idle to show that these passages have no respect to punishment in another state of existence. No well informed man would urge them as proof of such a doctrine; for it is plain, that the punishments were in this world, where the time is measured by day and night.
Such are all the texts in the Bible, where olim, aion, and aionios are used, in whatever way rendered by our translators. Not one text has been omitted to our knowledge, and the reader having the whole. ground before him, may examine it for himself. The texts on which dependence is placed, proving the doctrine of endless punishment, we have fully considered, and to spend time with others is unnecessary.
CONCLUDING REMARKS ON OLIM, AION, AND AIONIOS, RENDERED EVERLASTING, FOREVER, &C. THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE, WHETHER APPLIED to god, TO LIFE, OR PUNISHMENT.
Ir these terms are ever used to express endless duration, all seem to be agreed that they express the endless duration,
1st. Of God. Indeed, it is from their being applied to him, who is without beginning or end, that it is concluded they express endless duration when applied to other things. This point, then, requires to be examined with modesty and care. It would ill become me, to speak with dogmatical confidence on such a subject. All I claim is, that what has occurred to me be considered impartially, and it may lead to a more complete investigation of the subject. There is no dispute, nor can there be any, about the endless existence of Jehovah. The only point about which a question arises is, are these terms intended to express his endless duration when so applied? If they do, it must, I think, be allowed, that it is the subject to which they are applied which gives them this extent of signification; and it is certain beyond a doubt, that they are often used in Scripture to express a limited duration; yea, sometimes a short period, such as a person's life time. Besides, does it fairly follow, that because God is infinite, that words must derive an infinite signification when applied to him? If they do, why confine it to the words before us? Why not also say, that when the term good is applied to God, it must always mean an infinite degree of goodness? which if true, puts an end
to the doctrine of eternal misery, for it is expressly said "the Lord is good unto all." So in regard to other terms being applied to him. But what leads me to think that olim, aion, and aionios, used to express duration when applied to the divine being, were not intended to designate his endless duration, are the following things:
1st. From the original native sense of these terms. Lexicon writers seem to be agreed, that they signify eternity, not from their natural native sense, but from the subjects to which they are applied, and the sense of certain passages requiring such an application of them. They all allow, that they not only signify limited duration, but are used to express this in Scripture. I would therefore query, whether we ought to take it for granted, that certain passages in which such words are used, require us to understand them as expressing endless duration? May not these passages be misunderstood? And, when duly considered, we may see that they do not require such a sense affixed to these terms. Is it correct reasoning to infer, that terms expressing limited duration, cannot be applied to God without changing their meaning from a limited to an infinite signification? Why may not these terms, which are certainly used to express all the ages of the world from its beginning to its end, be also used when applied to God, to express, not his endless duration, but the period of his dispensations and dealings with men through Jesus Christ, throughout all the generations of it. For example, when God is called "the king eternal," we have seen above, by a quotation from Macknight, that it simply signifies king of the ages, or of all the ages or dispensations of this world.
2d. Supposing then these terms when applied to God, do not express, his endless duration but all the period of his dispensations with men in this world,
there is a propriety and congruity in all their applications throughout the Scriptures. They are then used, to express a longer or shorter period, as the subject of the writer required. They express the period of a man's life-time, the duration of any one of the dispensations under which men have been placed, or all the ages of the world from its beginning to its end. Accordingly these terms are used in a variety of ways to express limited duration, as is universally allowed. To understand them as expressing endless duration would make the inspired writers in many instances speak the most palpable absurdities and contradictions.
3d. If these terms when applied to God, are used to express his endless existence, I beg leave to ask, why qualifying explanatory phrases are added by the sacred writers, as is so frequently done? I shall explain myself about this. For example, when olim is used to express time past, it is not only rendered of old, the days of old, ancient, ancient years, former years, but is explained to mean, many generations, the years of many generations, and from the beginning. Again, when it is used to express future time, we have also the following explanatory phrases given us concerning it: all thy days, throughout your generations, throughout all generations, to all generations, from generation to generation, many generations, every generation, the tenth generation, and a thousand generations. Besides, it is also limited or qualified by the duration of the sun, moon, host of heaven, and days of heaven. Had this word signified endless duration, all must have seen the propriety of adding such explanations when it was used to express a limited duration, for this was necessary to prevent misunderstanding. But what need was there. to add the same or similar explanations when this term is applied to God? Why not let it have its full
unqualified meaning, if it really signified endless duration? But the sacred writers make no distinction, for they add the same restricting, qualifying expressions when it is applied to him, as when speaking of any thing else, as seen above from the passages where olim occurs. Indeed if this word signified endless duration, it was necessary to give such explanations when used to express a temporary duration, but surely altogether unnecessary when speaking of God. If persons will have it, that the subject to which olim is applied determines whether it is to be understood in a limited or endless sense, let them account for the fact, that such qualifying phrases are used when it is applied to God.' What was their use or intention in such a connexion? Yea, I ask, ought we not rather to have had some phrases showing that olim when applied to God was to be understood in its most unlimited sense? This was necessary, seeing the word did not signify endless duration of itself, was applied so often to express limited duration, and was attended with such qualifying phraseology in so many instances. At any rate, when olim was applied to God, why were not such restricting phrases omitted? This would have been leaving the subject to which it is applied, to determine the extent of its meaning without any drawback from such limiting phrases. Were such phrases introduced for no purpose? But if introduced for the purpose of limiting or explaining olim in the one case, no candid man will question, but they were introduced for the same purpose in the other. For example, the priesthood of Aaron, is called an everlasting priesthood, but this is explained by the phrase "throughout your generations." So in other instances. Well, when it is said of God," his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting," it is added by way of explanation, "his righteousness unto children's children." Psalm 103: 17. Again, when it is said